John Matarese tells you where to dine out and save.
File photo of Gold Star Chili
As the kids leave the playground for the classroom this fall, many families will return to our routines of dining out.
But that bill can quickly add up. Taking a family to a family restaurant can cost $50 or more these days.
"When you go to the more upscale and try to get healthier food, it definitely gets expensive," said Beth Jerio, mother of three.
Fellow Mom Amy Thompson said "we don't eat out often, and when we do we try for places that are either free for the little ones or less expensive."
And that's a great solution: Places where kids under 12 don't have to pay, as long as mom or dad pays for their meal.
Lots of Free Options
Savings blogger Megan Fenno is a young mom herself.
"Certain restaurants, depending on the day will offer kids eat free promotions," Fenno said. "You're going find most of them on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday."
Fenno says while most freebie deals are early in the week, "there are some places that offer free kids meals during the weekend. For instance, Steak 'n Shake has free kids meals Saturday and Sundays."
Among the best deals, Fenno says:
--Chili's, kids eat free on Tuesdays at most locations.
--Lone Star Steakhouse also has free kid meals Tuesday at many restaurants.
--Applebee's lets kids ear free on Wednesday at many restaurants.
--Ihop has free kids meals after 4pm every day of the week. And yes, they serve more than just pancakes.
--Steak 'n Shakes offer free kids meals on weekends, most locations.
Caution before you rush out
A couple of cautions: Some restaurants say kids under 3 can eat free, but most parents find that silly, because 2 year olds typically don't eat adult food.
And two, its always good to call ahead, because not all franchises offer these deals.
That way you don't waste your money.
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